Special forces from the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan fought Taliban militants early Wednesday after being dispatched to the northern city of Kunduz to help Afghan forces re-take it from insurgents who seized it earlier this week, a coalition spokesman said.
The forces were on a mission near Kunduz airport where hundreds of Afghan forces based themselves after retreating from the city, the spokesman told the Reuters news agency.
And note this:
Some coalition troops assigned to conventional military units are also in Kunduz to support the Afghan army.
You can bet your ass that those conventional forces at a minimum are providing transportation and logistics support, the kind of support that might have kept the Iraqi army together if Obama had not so foolishly tossed away the hard fought victory in Iraq.
I read last week that the Pentagon will be laying out the options for American/Coalition involvement in Afghanistan going forward. They supposedly will range from indefinitely delaying any further drawdown of support to essentially leaving Afghanistan by the beginning of 2017 as planned. There is no doubt in my mind that if we fail to keep a significant support capability in Afghanistan until the ANSF can support themselves in the field, which could take years more, the country will quickly revert to the chaos of the 1990s.
A disconcerting thought popped into my head yesterday as I was watching another in the endless stream of DraftKings commercials during NFL Games:
How long before we see some idiot try to Gillooly a player?
I haven't actually dug into DraftKings and whether it lives up to the hype as far as cash prizes, and I have no intention to at this point. It does seem to have taken the concept of fantasy sports to another level where the stakes can be much higher than even some of the more typical yet expensive leagues. And where stakes get high, people can be tempted to do foolish things.
I suppose the incentive already exists to some extent with legal and illegal gambling, and that sort of thing isn't a problem as far as I know. Then again, we are talking about individual player performance and not whether a team beats the spread. Might somebody find it worthwhile to ding Darren McFadden to keep him from taking a TD away from Joseph Randle? You wouldn't think so, of course, but stranger fixes have been alleged over the years.
I got a 61-31 win over my opponent this week. James Jones made a nice addition as my third receiver and he would have made an even nicer one if what would have been his second TD hadn't been called back. My opponent left a lot of points on the bench, but it still wouldn't have been enough.
The downside is it appears my running backs are not going to pan out as hoped. Forsett and Randle are not piling up the yards and both are getting TDs poached. I need a major overhaul I think. I'll take another win though.
Popes have visited the US before, and politics have naturally played a role, but I don't think we have ever seen a visit set to be quite as political and polarizing as this one. I think we are about to see unprecedented efforts to trumpet Pope Francis when he agrees with one side and spin his words away when he doesn't. Both left and right will do that, however it will likely be most noticeable with the MSM, since they mostly are on the left. To no one's shock, we will see his criticisms of abortion and modern gender theory downplayed and his views on climate change and poverty trumpeted. His speeches in Spanish, which will be something like 10 out of 14, are the most likely to be misinterpreted and distorted.
I have not read all of the encyclical that Pope Francis issued earlier this year, but I've read enough to know that it has been cherry-picked by both sides on the issues that it addresses. It is a long and complicated document and more nuanced and balanced than we have been led to believe. Even on man-made climate change, which the pope seems to embrace, he notes that it is not his place to determine the science.
On that point, if I could get one minute with Pope Francis I would simply note that "the science is settled" and the "97% consensus" are lies. Not mistakes, deliberate lies that do not further truth and science, but are meant to silence anyone with evidence to the contrary. And we all know who is the father of lies. Lies corrupt, no matter the good intentions of the liar, and a movement that employs lies should not be embraced.
My advice on the pope's visit is to keep an open mind, don't let your knee jerk, and for goodness sake don't trust the MSM to fairly present what he says. That could happen I suppose, but I wouldn't bet on it.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately. On July 26, 2014, the U.S. Embassy suspended all embassy operations in Libya and relocated staff outside of the country because of ongoing violence between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy. The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. If in Libya, make contingency emergency plans and maintain security awareness at all times. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on January 20, 2015.
Read the whole thing for paragraph after paragraph of the wonderful goodness that Hillary and Obama have wrought in Libya.
Tens of thousands of people have died because of their botched decision to depose Ghaddafi. It has also contributed to roughly half of the refugee crisis in Europe, if not more. Long before Syrian refugees began arriving in Europe, Libyan smugglers took advantage of the lack of government border control to smuggle Africans of all types to Italy. Thousands more have drowned in the Mediterranean since.
Household income for blacks in Minnesota plummeted in the past year, according to survey data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
From 2013 to 2014, the median income for black households in the state fell 14 percent. In constant dollars, that was a decline from about $31,500 to $27,000 — or $4,500 in a single year.
Meanwhile, the statewide poverty rate for black residents rose from 33 percent to 38 percent, compared to a stable overall state poverty rate of 11 percent.
The median black household in Minnesota is now worse off than its counterpart in Mississippi. Among the 50 states, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., Minnesota ranked 45th in median black household income. Mississippi ranked 44th.
The other racial groups apparently remained stable.
Minneapolis officials say they’ve come up against a new kind of challenge in their fight against late-night crime downtown: people unafraid to fire guns even on blocks packed with bar patrons and dotted with dozens of police officers.
The article only hints at it, but what's going on is black gang violence, and it's getting more and more brazen. I'm not afraid to go to downtown Minneapolis, but as our county attorney notes in the article, it's best to leave before the bars close at 2:00 a.m.
These days linking stories like these immediately opens one up to charges of racism, but if we are going to fix problems we need to be able to face them, not sweep them under that rug. Doing the latter only ensures that both problems will not only continue, they likely will get worse.
The first article notes that there is no clear explanation for the drop, especially considering that the black unemployment rate has remained steady. I don't have an explanation either, but regardless, it's not rocket science to understand that growing poverty and violence feed on each other and are symptoms of a community in crisis. Throw in the fact that at least 40% of black high school students do not graduate on time in Minneapolis and you have all the makings of a growing underclass with little hope for the future.
This is not about the black banker I met with a few months ago, or the black bartender who served me last week, or any other of the majority of black men and women who are leading productive lives. This is about the black underclass and finding ways to reverse its growth. Chanting that, "Black Lives Matter" isn't going to do it. Railing against the 1% and income inequality isn't going to do it. They aren't going to keep kids in school or make at risk young black men and women employable. In fact, those are distractions from finding real solutions.
I'm not even sure how many people care about real solutions. I fear most on the right have given up caring, since talking about the problem is most likely to lead to grief for them personally and little or no recognition of their good will and intent. I think Democrats are either too afraid or guilty, or cynically value the presence of a black underclass as a political weapon, to advance any real solutions. And the media has prioritized political correctness above informing their readers, so these stories sort of rise up in our collective consciousness and then fade away, over and over and over.
I'm pretty sure that we will shy away from uncomfortable truths, there will be more calls for income redistribution, and once again nothing of any substance will be accomplished.
I didn't watch the debate last night, but I did hear part of the first one on my drive home and I listened to most of the main event on the radio while I worked on various things around the house. My overall impression was favorable, though there were some moments that had me rolling my eyes. I would vote for any of them, even Trump, over Hillary or Bernie. That doesn't mean I want all of them to win the nomination. I offer a few impressions of the debate and the race in general.
I like Fiorina and would vote for her if she wins the nomination, even though I think she would be better positioned at the VP spot. Her lack of political experience is both a plus and a minus.
Trump sounded more measured to me last night, like he's starting to realize the seriousness of what he's doing. Bluster is going to work against him as he has to deal with serious policy statements from the other candidates. Walker, Rubio, Fiorina, and Christie are the anti-Trumps in this race. They will grow taller in stature as they debate policy details while Trump shrinks.
On the other hand, Bush only helps Trump with the anti-GOP establishment crowd. I think if he wins the nomination too many conservatives will have a hissy-fit and the Democrat will win. I don't want to see Trump get the nomination, but if it comes down to him or Bush I'll vote for Trump.
I heard Jindal(I think) press Graham about cutting the funding for Planned Parenthood, passing a budget by ending the filibuster, and daring Obama to veto it. Graham's response shows why many conservatives consider him a member of the Vichy-wing of the GOP: "Do you want to shut down the government?" Look, Lindsey, if Obama vetoes a passed budget he's the one shutting down the government, and you and your Senate colleagues need to grow the stones to make him own it.
I think there's much to like about Ben Carson, but I have some concerns about him. I get the feeling he hasn't thought through some important issues, particularly on foreign policy. I think he too will fade as policy details become more specific.
The dumbest part of the night came when the candidates were asked what they would like for a Secret Service code name. I was disappointed that none of the candidates answered the way candidate Dave would have: "What a stupid question, I don't care."
I think Huckabee, Cruz, Paul, Kasich, Pataki, Graham, Santorum, and Jindal need to drop out for the good of the party. Jindal would probably be another good choice for VP, but he's not going to win the nomination for president this time.
Most of the MSM hates Walker with a passion, that's why he's on the receiving end of the constant barrage of negative articles about him. That's also what may make him the best GOP candidate for the general election. If he can hang on long enough for Trump to fade, those votes have a good chance of swinging to him. That's a big "if" with the MSM and establishment Republicans stacked against him.
The Iowa caucus is still 4 1/2 months away and a lot can happen until then. I'm not putting any stock in polls about the major candidates at this point.
So you're a teacher who is in the middle of a class and you're interrupted by a beeping noise. It turns out that a student has a homemade clock in his bag and he shows it to you. It looks like this:
So you're the principal of the school and the teacher presents this to you, do you just shrug it off?
The story about Ahmed Mohamed's homemade clock has gone viral, the latest opportunity for everyone to get their outrage on about whatever turns their crank, be it stupid school administrators, racism, anti-Muslim hate and blah, blah, blah. Simply calling it a clock makes the school personnel and the police look ridiculous, but look at that thing? Is "clock" the first thing that pops into your head when you see that picture? If something like that showed up in your child's classroom, what would you expect their teacher and principal to do?
Maybe the school and police overreacted, but maybe not. Only an idiot or attention seeker would bring something like that to school. And before all of this blew up on him, his engineering teacher told him, "I would advise you not to show any other teachers," and yet that's exactly what he did a few hours later.
I suspect Ahmed knew exactly what he was doing. I don't think it's credible that he didn't know it looked like a bomb, especially after the first teacher's warning to him. I don't think it's credible that the alarm just happened to go off. In my opinion, Ahmed was looking for attention and now he's received it in a big way.
Welcome to America 2015, where any high school student can get millions of tools to voluntarily enlist, including the President of the United States, in helping him pwn the principal of his school.
A popular trail in Colorado remains closed because people are too selfie-ish.
Waterton Canyon, a Denver park, was closed on Aug. 28 after more bears and their cubs began foraging the woods. After more than two weeks, the park still hasn't re-opened, because too many people are trying to take selfies with the wild beasts.
"We've actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears," said Brandon Ransom, Denver Water's manager of recreation. Before it was closed, a bear chased a biker in the canyon.
The obvious downside to continuing to let such visitors in is that eventually the bears would have to be killed. You have to be first world stupid and probably highly educated to be so foolish as those selfie takers.
The Good: My fantasy football season started off with a win, 48-25. Adrian Peterson didn't come close to helping out my opponent as much as I had feared. I tied for third most points for the week, so it was a solid, but not great performance. My backs did not produce much while facing tough opponents. I'm still concerned about that part of my team.
The Ugly: No need to bother with "Bad" when it comes to the performance of the Vikings last night, just go straight to ugly. A blocked field goal after they let the 49ers push them down the field was pretty much the only bright spot. They looked unprepared and they were outcoached and outplayed. Bridgewater looked awful. Norv Turner's playcalls were baffling in their failure to use Adrian Peterson(He has come to Minnesota to kill me). It also appears that they will miss Jerome Felton much more than they thought.
In other news, the StarTribune reports that a man in a Vikings jersey was beaten by 49ers fans after the game. I was all ready to get my outrage on when I got to this near the bottom of the story:
“The Viking fan in the video and a 49er fan NOT in the video were talking smack to each other … The Viking fan shoved his wife into a barrier to try to get to the 49er fan, then at that point the 49er fan walked away from the situation. … The Viking fan turned around and addressed everyone behind him (mostly 49er fans). He said ‘what’s up, any of you — — ers want some?!’ At that point everyone went silent for 2 seconds then as the Viking fan was turning around to walk away, the 49er fan in the black (at the beginning of the video who threw the first punch) tackled him to the ground. That’s where the video starts.”
Dumbass. Not only did he deserve to get his ass kicked, he's lucky it wasn't worse.
And what would another NFL season be without more players get away with ugly behavior. The dirtiest piece of shit in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh, kicked the helmet off running back Alfred Morris after a play on Sunday. Anybody else might deserve the benefit of the doubt, but not Suh given his history. He should have been thrown out of the game and suspended for at least one or two games. The same goes for Pacman Jones and his despicable removal of Amari Cooper's helmet while he was flat on his back. Video of both incidents here.
There are no excuses for either incident and there is no excuse for the NFL to not harshly punish both.
Week 1 of fantasy football sees me up by 24 going into tonight's games. I'm done for the week, but my opponent still has Adrian Peterson left. Will 24 points be enough? I'm certain that AP is highly motivated to have an enormous game and I'm also certain that the Vikings management wants that as well. If he starts rolling they are going to go with it as long as they can. I want to see him have a good game, but let's keep it to 23 or under, okay?
Over the weekend I took a look at the latest allegations against the Patriots, that they deliberately screwed with the Steelers by piping the Patriots Radio Network into the headsets on the Pittsburgh sidelines. I had always figured that communication system was a fairly straightforward challenge, but it turns out that it is a lot more complicated than I thought. On game day there are more than just a couple of teams to worry about in the stadium:
Quarterbacks, defensive play-callers, coaches and game officials all depend on coordinators to ensure that their systems are interference-free. So do TV and radio broadcasters and reporters, medical and security personnel, staff who use the NFL’s instant replay and injury video review systems, concession operators, cleaners, halftime entertainers and many more.
Given the information from there and a few other stories I've read, it is doubtful if not impossible that the interference came from the wireless portion of the communication system. To be heard in those headsets it had to be mixed into the audio stream before it got to the wireless transmitters on the field. That would point to the wired "infrastructure" the NFL noted in its statement on Friday. It's likely that some sort of grounding or shielding problem in that wired infrastructure allowed the audio from the radio broadcast booth to interfere with the audio from the Steelers coaches booth, since they are probably in some general proximity to one another.
To throw a bone to the conspiracy theorists, it's not impossible for that interference to be introduced deliberately. However, given the complexity involved in game day communications, both wired and wireless, I think Occam's razor should apply. The problem can be explained reasonably without creating a conspiracy, of which there apparently is no evidence. Just because cheaters cheat doesn't mean they always cheat.
Great post by Robert Zubrin on the Malthusian underpinnings of the environmental movement in general and the climate change maniacs in particular. I recommend reading the whole thing, but here's the core argument:
The fundamental question boils down to this: Are humans destroyers or creators? If the idea is accepted that the world’s resources are fixed, with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is enemy of every other race or nation. The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide.
But if we choose instead to have faith in the power of unfettered creativity to invent unbounded resources, then every new life if[sic] a gift, and every person, race, and nation becomes ultimately the potential friend of every other, and, rather than suppression, the fundamental purpose of government must be to protect human liberty at all costs.
As I've mentioned here before, the harnessing of fossil fuels has had enormous benefits for humanity and nature too, when it stops deforestation for example. The challenge is not to stop using them, it's to spread to the rest of the world the clean technology that has dramatically reduced real pollution in the US and Europe.
A convicted sex offender and international drug dealer from Ontario was caught with an equally soaking wet fellow Canadian after they swam from their homeland across a river and entered the U.S. illegally at the far northeast corner of Minnesota, a strategy the felon had used previously without detection, according to federal prosecutors.
As the story goes on to say, they got him because an anonymous informant rang up the Border Patrol and warned them. Allegedly the man had done that four or five times before.
I know that area and points west for 100 miles pretty well and it is not hard to imagine this being a successful strategy in a lot places. Scott Walker was misrepresented and took a lot of unfair heat for his comments about the US-Canadian border a few weeks ago, but those of us who know the area know how vulnerable it really is. After all, without that informant this guy would probably have gotten away with it again.
The Twins took 2 out of 3 at the White Sox this weekend and start a 10-game homestand tonight against Detroit. They are one game back of the Rangers for the second wildcard spot, who are only a 1.5 games behind division leader Houston. Those two start a 3-game series tonight. Kansas City looks to have the Central sewn up, but the rest of the postseason spots are still in play.
Nearly 160 US soldiers arrived from Kuwait aboard to the Habbaniyah air base, east of Ramadi western Iraq, yesterday to participate in the operation to recapture the city from Daesh.
An Iraqi military official told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed news site: “The new forces’ mission does not appear to be training the Iraqi army or the tribes fighting with me. We expect that they will provide direct support in the upcoming battle to retake Ramadi.”
The US forces’ arrival in Habbaniyah comes after Shia popular crowd militias withdrew from the base under US pressure.
A member of the Anbar Provincial Council told the news site: “The Americans do not want the Islamic State militants or the popular crowd militias to stay in the area.”
To be clear, US combat units have been in Iraq, but they have been on a training mission and not assigned to Iraqi front line units.
The offensive to retake Ramadi that was launched over a month ago has gained some ground, but has failed badly in it's prime objective. If this report is accurate about both the US troops arriving and the Shiite militias withdrawing, it probably means that US troops will finally be embedded within front line Iraqi Army units to coordinate air strikes and other support, such as logistics.
Meanwhile, Iraq's defence minister Khalid Al-Obeidi and senior military commanders visited the ground force headquarters in the Anbar province.
During his visit Al-Obeidi called to “intensify logistical support for troops fighting in the province.”
I don't know the exact composition of the other US forces at the air base whose primary mission was/is training Iraqi forces, but my guess is they are also going to provide support for the Ramadi operation as well.
It will be interesting to see if this story goes away or if it marks the moment when Obama was forced to confront his disastrous legacy in Iraq. US troops on the ground can be a huge force multiplier and potential game-changer in the battle against ISIS.
The fantasy football league I'm in completed its draft(yeah, we're a bunch of dinosaurs) tonight and here are the results:
TE-Martellus Bennett(Note: We play 3 WR/TE)
I drafted 6/15 and so on for each set of rounds. To me this is almost perfect as I was drafting every 9/11 picks. I had the number 1 pick last year, and besides the major blow from AP sitting out most of the season, I hate sitting for 19 picks between getting two. So far here's how I think I did.
I was quite uncharacteristic this year. With the #6 pick overall I took a WR, Antonio Brown. By the time it came back to me at #15, Odell Beckham was still sitting there and I decided to grab him up as well. That left me with no RBs going into the third round, and it has been a long time, if ever, that I've done that.
Round #3 saw me draft down a little according to the cheat sheets, but I like Justin Forsett even if he is a bit of a gamble. Just like Joique Bell, who I picked up in the following round.
Round #5 saw Tom Brady still sitting there, so that's my prime QB this year. On the return side I grabbed Steven Hauschka to round out the core of my lineup(long term, hopefully).
I don't remember the sequence after that, but I was essentially filling out #3's and backups. I'm pleased to have Maclin, Colston, and Bennett rounding out my WR/TE options. Randle and Blue will either turn out to be brilliant or busts. Both have a chance to win starting spots behind pretty good offensive lines, but both didn't exactly overperform in the preseason. Cam Newton is being talked down due to his injured receiving corps, but I think he was a reasonable choice as a backup to Brady in round #10.
Blair Walsh has had a dismal preseason, but he shown the ability for booming field goals in the past. If the regular season starts poorly for him I can always cut him and later find another fill-in for Hauschka in week 9.
So there you go. I gambled at RB and I'm nervous about that, but we'll just have to see how it plays out. Of course, that's true with the rest of my roster as well no matter how good I feel about it. One year ago I was pleased to be sitting pretty with Adrian Peterson and a soon to be off suspension Ray Rice, and we all know how well that worked out.
More: ESPN, which we use to manage our league, seems to have made a number of annoying changes since the end of the last season. I'm also hearing a fair amount of grumbling that they've decided to become political, and to the left. On the first count, I realize that my right to complain about a free service is somewhat limited. However, there is fierce competition for the eyeballs and clicks that free FFL service brings in, so it's not just a one-way street. Other than the overreaction to the Curt Schilling tweet, I haven't seen enough to make a judgement on the political side, but I am watching now. For the moment it's enough to see this gobsmacking disinformation tonight:
Since I had just drafted him as my #1 RB you can imagine my dismay at seeing a report of an MCL sprain when I got home. Except, it's apparently a load of crap. Hey, ESPN, how bad have you guys become? Seriously, if you want to do major damage to your credibility then keep letting garbage like this get posted on your website.
Stories like this, along with some others this year, have gotten to the point where they are making me rethink a few things:
In the middle of last school year, Lila Perry came out as transgender. Before that, she had been living as a gay male.
But that’s not who she really was. No longer was she going to pretend, Lila said.
So this year, she told teachers and administrators at Hillsboro High School, where she is a senior, that she would no longer be content to use a unisex faculty bathroom. She wanted to be treated like other female students, including access to bathrooms and locker rooms for girls.
Her decision spread quickly through the small Jefferson County school district and, on Monday morning, students at Hillsboro High School walked out in protest. During the walkout, Lila was locked in the principal’s office. She said she and administrators worried about her safety.
Much has changed in the name of tolerance in my lifetime and I think most of it has been for the better. It seems now though, that tolerance is being turned into a cudgel to be used against all sorts of other social sensibilities and send us down the path of madness. And it's really starting to piss me off that the people who warned us not to give them an inch or they'll take a mile, the people I and others scoffed at, are more and more appearing to have been right.
I'm not going to question Perry's assertion of being transgendered. I have no basis for making such a judgment and it's kind of dumb to get dragged into that argument anyway. I think it was reasonable for the school to try to accommodate Perry with a unisex bathroom in the teacher's lounge. In fact, I agree that more, if not all, individual restrooms should be made unisex. But I draw the line at forcing people to accommodate transgender people in communal settings. If private gyms choose to open their locker rooms to whomever identifies as what then their membership is free to accept that or go elsewhere. But coercing anyone in the case of a communal setting is unacceptable to me.
The same goes for attacks on religious freedom by coercing people into doing things related to gay weddings that they don't want to do. It's not the 1950s and only "Whites Only" hotels for 200 miles in any direction. We're talking about wedding cakes and crap and for 99.999999% of gay couples there are probably dozens of bakers willing to take their business for every one who won't. If they sue somebody for turning away that sort of business they're not a civil rights victim, they're assholes. Enough with that bullshit.
And the same goes with the assault on normal gender pronouns. It offends my fondness for the truth, but I'm willing to a call a man with a penis "she"(and the opposite) anyway if that's what they want. However, if it is going to lead to bullshit thinking such as "Well she's a she so she should be able to use the women's locker room even if she has a penis," or this latest bullshit about "ze" and "zis" and whatever then the time has come to step back and demand that people use the right words. You have a penis? You are a "he" and you will use the men's facilities. You have a vagina? You are a "she" and you will use the women's facilities.
End of story, end of bullshit.
I have no desire to persecute Lila Perry or cause her harm, but the other boys and girls at that school have their own rights and sensibilities that need to be respected. When she, I'll still grant her that for now, says “There’s a lot of ignorance. They are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” she's being disrespectful and ignorant in her own right. When I read that quote the first thing that came to mind is "The hell with this entitled little asshole, maybe it's time to go back to treating transgenderism as a mental disorder." I've cooled off since, but I'm definitely not alone in my anger. I don't want this fight, but let me be very clear that the transgendered community shouldn't want it either.
Nor do I desire to restart the gay marriage fight, but if the gay community is going to turn that victory into a way to get the government to commit their hate crimes against religion then maybe that battle needs to be re-fought too, knowing what we know today.
People are pissed these days and situations like Hillsboro High School are kindling waiting to go off. If the feds come down on that district and force the issue that might be the spark lights an unpredictable firestorm of backlash. Tolerance is often a two way street, and if the LGBT doesn't start giving some back soon they are going to start losing mine. Like I said, I'm not alone.